Sens' wait almost over

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

As Wade Redden moves closer to signing on the dotted line, Zdeno Chara has notified the Senators time is running out to make the deal that will keep him in an Ottawa uniform.

Redden told the Sun yesterday his contract isn't "done yet," but he remains hopeful he'll be staying in Ottawa.

Indications are that talks yesterday between Senators GM John Muckler and agent Don Meehan moved in the right direction and it's possible a deal could get done today. Negotiations continued last night.

The Senators are trying to avoid losing both Redden and Chara to unrestricted free agency. Talks with Chara have left the two sides with a bridge to gap, while discussions with Redden are back on track after more than a week of silence.

Speaking before jumping on a flight to Halifax, Redden -- who is trying to come to a two-year agreement worth about $12.5 million (all figures US) -- said there's a chance he could sign before testing the open market.

The free agency period is set to begin Saturday.

"I know (Meehan) was going to talk to (Muckler) again and I'm sure I'll be getting some kind of update here in the next few hours," said Redden. "I'd like to be back with the Senators. I think we're going to have a good team and I've always felt like I'm going to have a chance to win here. Hopefully, we're able to get it done. We'll see how this goes. I'm pretty certain we're going to know something quickly."

Redden said his decision won't be influenced by what happens with Chara. Redden did admit he's been keeping a close eye on his fellow blueliner's negotiations as well as any moves Muckler will make to improve the team.

"I guess we're going to have to see how the situation develops," said Redden. "Obviously, it would be great if both (Chara) and I were back to help the team win.

"But I don't know if they're going to be able to keep both of us and I guess if (Chara's) not there, then that's going to be a big gap for us to fill. I want to be in a situation where I have a chance to win."

$7-MILLION PRICETAG

As for Chara, he's got one foot out the door and it doesn't look like he'll be stopped from leaving unless Senators owner Eugene Melnyk agrees to move closer to an offer worth $7 million per season.

Matt Keator, Chara's agent, didn't sound optimistic the Senators were going to be able to move into that ballpark, which means he'll likely depart via free agency.

"I remain hopeful Ottawa will present (Chara) with a fair market value deal, but time is running out," said Keator. "I guess if we don't reach an agreement by July 1, there is still a chance after that point to negotiate a contract with the Senators. It is where he would like to be."

That is looking less likely. There is going to be a huge market for Chara. A report yesterday said the Minnesota Wild are going to jump into the fray, while the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes are all seeking blue-line help.


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